Condo sales offices are often expensive and wasteful things, with buckets of money thrown at temporary buildings or expensive interior renovations, only to be hauled off to the dump when construction starts. So for all of the complaining that I do about shipping container architecture, a condo sales office is one place where it makes a lot of sense. Because shipping containers are designed to move, and when the sales cycle is over for this Toronto project, Cabin by Curated Properties, that's what they will do.
“I had seen, in London, somebody had done almost a mall out of [shipping containers], where the ground floor was retail, there were outdoor staircases, and there was a restaurant with a patio above,” Curated’s Adam Ochshorn says. “And I thought: ‘Wow, that would be interesting to do a sales centre out of.’”
The project, and the sales office, are designed by Roland Rom Colthoff of RAW, one of the city's more talented condo architects, and built by Giant Containers, seen on TreeHugger previously. Dave LeBlanc describes the interior where four containers come together to make the grand space inside:
The exhilarating walk into the dining and living area, however, cannot be overstated. Here, four containers have been married to create a grand, airy and light-filled room. The only clue that corrugated ceilings, walls and floors have been removed to create this room is the long, slender “beam” overhead, where all once linked together.
This would normally be my cue to say "what a waste"- they have cut out walls, floors and ceilings, almost half the containers, to create a space of habitable size, which could have been done a whole lot more easily if built from scratch. But in this case, where it is clear that the building is going to be moved, it makes some sense. Because as Adam Ochshorn notes, these things ain't cheap.
Those of us who’ve experienced and enjoyed visiting these transformed shipping containers will have a chance to own them once they’ve completed their sales office duties, Mr. Ochshorn says: “It’s going to be an auction, it’s not going to be a contest – there is, surprisingly, a lot of big money tied up in these things.”
The building itself is interesting too, being six storeys built out of wood, (and not shipping containers, which has evidently confused some visitors) which just became legal in Ontario. It is an example of the kind of development that I hope we will see a lot more of: smaller, mid-rise buildings on main streets, throughout the city. You can do this effectively in wood, whereas concrete is too expensive unless you can spread the fixed costs of cranes and formwork over a taller structure. I will follow up with more detail on the building itself in another post.